CBAN has done a bit of a shuffle on our planned March Lunch and Learn. The previous topic, "A New Approach to Feasibility", is being postponed until later this year to make way for a new topic - the new federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
CLICK HERE to register
Congress created the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program as part of its latest COVID-19 relief bill. Under the program, qualifying American households will be eligible for a monthly subsidy toward their broadband internet service. However, in order for them to take advantage of the discounted service, their internet provider will need to participate in the program.
In this Lunch and Learn, we'll take a look at the program from several prospectives. How do internet providers participate in the program? How do consumers benefit? And what does this mean for the future of making broadband internet more affordable for more Americans. Join us to learn more!
CBAN's Lunch and Learn for March, "A New Approach to Feasibility", is being postponed to later this year. A new topic and a new date have been put in place for March. See above for more details!
A bipartisan group of United States Senators say that the FCC's definition of broadband is out of date, and are advocating for a major increase in the threshhold.
In 2015, the FCC created a definition of "broadband" as internet service with a minimum advertised download speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and an upload speed of at least 3 Mbps. Since 2015, a LOT has changed. Average residential data usage has skyrocketed. Consumers have been steadily shifting their entertainment consumption from linear cable TV to streaming services. Many of those streaming services did not even exist when the definition was set.
The group of senators - 2 Democrats, a Republican, and an Independent- sent a letter to the FCC earlier this month calling for them to increase the broadband definition to 100 Mbps for both download and upload speeds. As described in an article at The Verge:
“Going forward, we should make every effort to spend limited federal dollars on broadband networks capable of providing sufficient download and upload speeds and quality,” Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Angus King (I-ME), and Rob Portman (R-OH) wrote to the FCC and other agencies. “There is no reason federal funding to rural areas should not support the type of speeds used by households in typical well-served urban and suburban areas.”
Many in the industry now see 100x100 internet speeds as the defacto standard for a baseline internet service. New fiber networks being built by both public and private providers rarely offer a lower tier than 100x100. State lawmakers are increasingly using 100x100 as a requirement for state grant programs. And even in areas where lower speeds are offered, more and more consumers are choosing to upgrade because they are finding that lower speeds - especially at the FCC standard - are just not cutting it.
While increasing the broadband definition seems like a no-brainer, it's that upload speed increase that may cause the most heartburn among internet providers. While fiber networks are, by their very nature, capable of symmetrical download and upload speeds, it's a bigger technical challenge for other platforms such as cable, DSL, and fixed wireless. A change in the definition this large could open up vast new areas to funding streams that aren't currently eligible. It's likely the senators' suggestion will meet with a major pushback from incumbent operators.
Mason City, Iowa is being added to a growing list of medium-sized Midwestern communities who are expansion targets of Indiana-based MetroNet. As reported by KIMT-TV, the Mason City City Council last night (3/2/21) unanimously approved a letter agreement with MetroNet to bring FTTH to "at least 85%" of the homes and businesses in Mason City.
Mason City is the latest of 90 communities in nine states targeted by MetroNet, including several in Iowa. MetroNet has projects under construction in Davenport, Bettendorf, Ames, Nevada, and LeClaire in Iowa. It has announced plans to begin work in 2021 in the Des Moines suburbs of Johnston and Urbandale as well as portions of other communities in the metro area.
MetroNet's intention to pass most, but not all, premises in Mason City is not unusual. The company usually does not commit to ubiquitous coverage, citing economics. For example, in Johnston the company has stated it will pass 90% of the city's premises, and City leaders are researching how to serve the ones left behind.
We hope you can join us for next edition of CBAN's Lunch and Learn on Wednesday, March 10th at Noon CST!
CBAN's Todd Kielkopf and Curtis Dean are excited to welcome Ken Demlow of HR Green for this session where we'll talk about a new approach for communities to take on feasibility studies. This new approach gives communities that are exploring a municipal broadband project more flexibility and control over the process.
Lunch and Learn is free to all so we hope you can join the discussion. CLICK HERE to register for the Zoom webinar and we'll see you on the 10th!
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.